Liberty thumps Yosemite in Badgers’ return to North Sequoia League football

Yosemite defenders including Troy Fite (52) and Caleb Burke (74) close in on a tackle against big Liberty running back Rylan Howe.
Yosemite defenders including Troy Fite (52) and Caleb Burke (74) close in on a tackle against big Liberty running back Rylan Howe. Special to the Sierra Star

Many wondered what Yosemite High’s return to North Sequoia League football play would look like. The reality was a stark one. After a two-year absence, the Badgers (4-2, 0-1) hosted league-favorite Liberty-Madera Ranchos on Friday night, Sept. 28 at Badger Stadium.

The Hawks (5-1, 1-0) scored on every possession of the first half and defeated Yosemite 52-14. It was the first league contest for each team. For YHS it was one of the worst home losses in recent memory. Prior to the game YHS was 9-2 at home since 2016. YHS has now lost two straight home games.

Liberty scored on every possession (seven straight touchdowns) in the first half. The Hawk offense used a devastating ground game. Liberty has a plethora of big running backs. Three Liberty runners: Colton Cardoza (230 pounds), Wyatt Roth (220) and Rylan Howe (200) gashed the Badger defensive front. Liberty came into the game averaging 350-yards-plus on the ground.

Badger mistakes also contributed to Liberty’s first-half onslaught. The normally reliable Badger quarterback Tyson Mansfield threw three first-half interceptions. One was returned for a touchdown. Another led to a Liberty touchdown.

Liberty took an early 14-0 lead with Howe scoring a 2-yard touchdown and Roth a 53-yard touchdown run. Later the YHS offense, on a fourth-and-2, went for a first down on its own 28-yard line. The Liberty defense held and YHS would pay. Five plays later Liberty running back Tyler Miller scored from 2 yards out. It was 21-0 after the first quarter. The rout was on.

Liberty scored four more touchdowns in the second quarter. Hawk quarterback Bradley Miller connected with Bradley Moon on a 26-yard touchdown pass. Later Roth would score from 2 yards out. Cardoza then picked off a Mansfield pass and raced 23 yards for an easy touchdown. Late in the second, Quentin Stewart ran it in from 10 yards out. Liberty went into halftime up 46-0.

Yosemite finally got on the scoreboard with Paul Antonis catching an 11-yard touchdown pass from Mansfield in the third quarter. Antonis played his first game since suffering an injury early in the season. Liberty would answer with Cole Cowger scoring from 23 yards out. Mansfield connected with Holden Eames on a 35-yard pass in the fourth quarter to end the scoring.

ernie jimenez running
Yosemite running back Ernie Jimenez is surrounded by Liberty defenders. TYRUS RAMOS Special to the Sierra Star

Yosemite stats

Overall, the Badgers were held to just 133 yards total offense.

Yosemite passing: Mansfield 4-14-80-2 TDs-3 interceptions.

Yosemite receiving: Eames 2-67, Antonis 1-11, Nicholas Harper 1-2.

Yosemite rushing (27-53): Harper 17-52, Ernie Jimenez 3-9, Paul Antonis 1-2, Justin Micallef 1-(-2), Mansfield 5-(-8).

Zachary Palmer, recently moved up from JV, was 2 for 2 on point-after kicks.

On defense, Micallef led YHS with 11 tackles. Mansfield had nine. Diego Combs had four tackles including one sack.

Badger JV shut out

An outmanned YHS JV (2-4, 0-1) was shut out 46-0 by the Liberty JV (2-2). YHS suited up only 15 players. 11 Badger sophomores play on varsity.

Early in the week, four players left the team. Leading Badger running back Garrett McMechan did not play. The Hawks JV held Yosemite to minus-50 yards in total offense. Yosemite managed only one first down.

YHS to host Kerman

It doesn’t get much easier for the Badgers as YHS hosts the Kerman Lions on Friday, Oct. 5. JV starts at 5 p.m. and Varsity at 7 p.m. at Badger Stadium.

Kerman (4-3, 0-1) lost a road game last week to Chowchilla 30-28. The Lions, coached by Stephen Hurt, are coming off a 10-2 season in 2017 where Kerman reached the semifinals of the Central Section Division IV playoffs.

The Lions have a balanced offense averaging 190 yards on the ground and 170 in the air. Senior running backs Isaac Velez (640 yards, four touchdowns) and Colton Smith (490, seven) lead Kerman. Junior quarterback Gavin Layton is 84 of 144 passing for 1,209 yards and 15 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Seniors Ryan Troutman (545 yards and 9 TDs) and Trace Silva (495, six) are the leading receivers.